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Thursday, January 26, 2023

Prone to wander
Oh, to grace how great a debtor daily I'm constrained to be!
Let Thy grace, Lord, like a fetter, bind my wan-d'ring heart to Thee:
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it; prone to leave the God I love.
Here's my heart, Lord, take and seal it; seal it for Thy courts above.

"A Vital Warning For All"

Message summary: We ignore warnings to our own peril, whether it be the many modern warnings to keep us safer or the ancient warnings in Holy Scripture.

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"See to it, brothers, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God" (Hebrews 3:12).

Twenty-two years ago next month I completed nearly eight years of service as the pastor of a church in Taunton, Massachusetts. In February 2001 we moved to Lancaster County where we have lived ever since.

Hands on shoulderIn one of the final sermons I preached in that church before our move I used a rather unusual method of reinforcing my message. On Sunday evening I slowly walked pew by pew throughout the sanctuary to each individual and with all the solemnity I could muster placed a hand on their shoulder. I looked him or her in the eye and slowly with great intensity quoted the daily verse, which was the text for my sermon that evening. "See to it, brothers, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God." As I recall I replaced "brothers" with their name.

About five years after leaving the New England church where I issued the challenge we were back for a visit and spoke to a young man who had been in the service. He had recently recommitted his life to the living God. He told Brooksyne that he especially remembered the sermon I preached when I repeated the verse to each individual and God used that experience to help him return to his spiritual roots. Of course God used other believers and Scriptural promptings to bring him back into right relationship with the Savior as well.

"See to it, brothers, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God" (Hebrews 3:12).

It's a truth that is so straightforward it requires little exposition, a vital warning. Children can understand it and so can senior adults.  It speaks to believers today just as it surely did to the original readers of Hebrews. It's a good verse to regularly preach to ourselves!

In the beginning of Hebrews 3 the writer draws a parallel from the Israelites' experience in the desert to the experience of Christians and their proneness to sin. He recognized the ancient texts as being from the Holy Spirit, "As the Holy Spirit says" (Hebrews 3:7) before quoting Psalm 95:7-11. What a powerful recognition of the divine inspiration of Scripture!

It doesn't matter where you live, it doesn't matter how long you've walked with God, and it doesn't matter the kind of family you were brought up in. We all know our heart's propensity to behave in a sinful manner, and when sin goes unchecked for a period of time; it turns our hearts away from God.
In 1758 Robert Robinson wrote the hymn, "Come Thou Fount Of Every Blessing"  which include these heartfelt, very candid words, "Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it, Prone to leave the God I love".

Too many times we "dabble in Egypt" - an expression used for those who are tempted to return to the ways of the world. It's derived from the book of Exodus when the Israelites, who were freed from slavery in Egypt, wanted to return after the going got tough during their journey to the Promised Land. They missed the "good" food but forgot the heavy oppression.

Hebrews 3:12Because sin and righteousness do not peacefully co-exist, we will either turn away from the living God or turn away from the destructive sin. We all know people who have turned away from the Truth, but on the other hand, we’ve also seen some of those people repent of their sins and return to the living God. Our human nature hasn't changed a bit in 2000 years, in that, it is prone to wandering into dangerous waters where it can easily be pulled under by the deadly currents of sin and unbelief.

Warnings like the daily text are good for us. Let me share our verse one final time with each reader. I can't do so individually as I did 22 years ago. I am not able to place my hand on your shoulder and I can't look you directly in the eye and yet I am solemnly quoting this verse even as I conclude this message with a Biblical charge and warning. Receive it and I encourage you to memorize it. "See to it, brothers, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God." This is a vital warning for all.

Be encouraged today, (Hebrews 3:13)

Stephen and Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, as we walk by faith and not by sight, grant us grace that none of us will have a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from You, the living God. Rather may we hate what is evil and cling to what is good. May we be devoted to one another in brotherly love and honor one another above ourselves. May we never be lacking in zeal, but keep our spiritual fervor, serving the Lord, being joyful in hope, patient in affliction, and faithful in prayer. In Jesus Name. Amen.

Prayer adapted from Romans 12:9-13.

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

"Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing"  Video  Matt Boswell

"So You Wanna Go Back To Egypt"  Video   Keith Green  A creative song that will give you something to think about!

Weber couple photo 7/3/22
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Scripture references are from The Holy Bible: New International Version. © 1984 by International Bible Society; NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1995 by The Lockman Foundation, New King James Version (NKJV) Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. and the King James Version.

Personal Mission Statement: "I am created by God to bring Him glory. Through God's Son Jesus Christ I have been redeemed and make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."

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